The Paris Sketch Book
William Makepeace Thackeray

Part 4 out of 7

to display my future military talents.

Mary gave no answer to this sneer: she seemed perfectly resigned
and calm: she only said,--

"I must make, however, some conditions regarding our proposed
marriage, which a gentleman of Monsieur Schneider’s gallantry
cannot refuse."

"Pray command me," replied the husband elect. "Fair lady, you know
I am your slave."

"You occupy a distinguished political rank, citizen representative,"
said she; "and we in our village are likewise known and beloved. I
should be ashamed, I confess, to wed you here; for our people would
wonder at the sudden marriage, and imply that it was only by
compulsion that I gave you my hand. Let us, then, perform this
ceremony at Strasburg, before the public authorities of the city,
with the state and solemnity which befits the marriage of one of the
chief men of the Republic."

"Be it so, madam," he answered, and gallantly proceeded to embrace
his bride.

Mary did not shrink from this ruffian’s kiss; nor did she reply
when poor old Jacob, who sat sobbing in a corner, burst out, and

"O Mary, Mary, I did not think this of thee!"

"Silence, brother!" hastily said Edward; "my good son-in-law will
pardon your ill-humor."

I believe uncle Edward in his heart was pleased at the notion of
the marriage; he only cared for money and rank, and was little
scrupulous as to the means of obtaining them.

The matter then was finally arranged; and presently, after
Schneider had transacted the affairs which brought him into that
part of the country, the happy bridal party set forward for
Strasburg. Uncles Jacob and Edward occupied the back seat of the
old family carriage, and the young bride and bridegroom (he was
nearly Jacob’s age) were seated majestically in front. Mary has
often since talked to me of this dreadful journey. She said she
wondered at the scrupulous politeness of Schneider during the
route; nay, that at another period she could have listened to and
admired the singular talent of this man, his great learning, his
fancy, and wit; but her mind was bent upon other things, and the
poor girl firmly thought that her last day was come.

In the meantime, by a blessed chance, I had not ridden three
leagues from Strasburg, when the officer of a passing troop of a
cavalry regiment, looking at the beast on which I was mounted, was
pleased to take a fancy to it, and ordered me, in an authoritative
tone, to descend, and to give up my steed for the benefit of the
Republic. I represented to him, in vain, that I was a soldier,
like himself, and the bearer of despatches to Paris. "Fool!" he
said; "do you think they would send despatches by a man who can
ride at best but ten leagues a day?" And the honest soldier was so
wroth at my supposed duplicity, that he not only confiscated my
horse, but my saddle, and the little portmanteau which contained
the chief part of my worldly goods and treasure. I had nothing
for it but to dismount, and take my way on foot back again to
Strasburg. I arrived there in the evening, determining the next
morning to make my case known to the citizen St. Just; and though I
made my entry without a sou, I don’t know what secret exultation I
felt at again being able to return.

The ante-chamber of such a great man as St. Just was, in those
days, too crowded for an unprotected boy to obtain an early
audience; two days passed before I could obtain a sight of the
friend of Robespierre. On the third day, as I was still waiting
for the interview, I heard a great bustle in the courtyard of the
house, and looked out with many others at the spectacle.

A number of men and women, singing epithalamiums, and dressed in
some absurd imitation of Roman costume, a troop of soldiers and
gendarmerie, and an immense crowd of the badauds of Strasburg, were
surrounding a carriage which then entered the court of the
mayoralty. In this carriage, great God! I saw my dear Mary, and
Schneider by her side. The truth instantly came upon me: the
reason for Schneider’s keen inquiries and my abrupt dismissal; but
I could not believe that Mary was false to me. I had only to look
in her face, white and rigid as marble, to see that this proposed
marriage was not with her consent.

I fell back in the crowd as the procession entered the great room
in which I was, and hid my face in my hands: I could not look upon
her as the wife of another,--upon her so long loved and truly--the
saint of my childhood--the pride and hope of my youth--torn from me
for ever, and delivered over to the unholy arms of the murderer who
stood before me.

The door of St. Just’s private apartment opened, and he took his
seat at the table of mayoralty just as Schneider and his cortège
arrived before it.

Schneider then said that he came in before the authorities of the
Republic to espouse the citoyenne Marie Ancel.

"Is she a minor?" asked St. Just.

"She is a minor, but her father is here to give her away."

"I am here," said uncle Edward, coming eagerly forward and bowing.
"Edward Ancel, so please you, citizen representative. The worthy
citizen Schneider has done me the honor of marrying into my

"But my father has not told you the terms of the marriage," said
Mary, interrupting him, in a loud, clear voice.

Here Schneider seized her hand, and endeavored to prevent her from
speaking. Her father turned pale, and cried, "Stop, Mary, stop!
For heaven’s sake, remember your poor old father’s danger!"

"Sir, may I speak?"

"Let the young woman speak," said St. Just, "if she have a desire
to talk." He did not suspect what would be the purport of her

"Sir," she said, "two days since the citizen Schneider entered for
the first time our house; and you will fancy that it must be a love
of very sudden growth which has brought either him or me before you
to-day. He had heard from a person who is now unhappily not
present, of my name and of the wealth which my family was said to
possess; and hence arose this mad design concerning me. He came
into our village with supreme power, an executioner at his heels,
and the soldiery and authorities of the district entirely under his
orders. He threatened my father with death if he refused to give
up his daughter; and I, who knew that there was no chance of
escape, except here before you, consented to become his wife. My
father I know to be innocent, for all his transactions with the
State have passed through my hands. Citizen representative, I
demand to be freed from this marriage; and I charge Schneider as a
traitor to the Republic, as a man who would have murdered an
innocent citizen for the sake of private gain."

During the delivery of this little speech, uncle Jacob had been
sobbing and panting like a broken-winded horse; and when Mary had
done, he rushed up to her and kissed her, and held her tight in his
arms. "Bless thee, my child!" he cried, "for having had the
courage to speak the truth, and shame thy old father and me, who
dared not say a word."

"The girl amazes me," said Schneider, with a look of astonishment.
"I never saw her, it is true, till yesterday; but I used no force:
her father gave her to me with his free consent, and she yielded as
gladly. Speak, Edward Ancel, was it not so?"

"It was, indeed, by my free consent," said Edward, trembling.

"For shame, brother!" cried old Jacob. "Sir, it was by Edward’s
free consent and my niece’s; but the guillotine was in the court-
yard! Question Schneider’s famulus, the man Gregoire, him who
reads ‘The Sorrows of Werter.’"

Gregoire stepped forward, and looked hesitatingly at Schneider, as
he said, "I know not what took place within doors; but I was
ordered to put up the scaffold without; and I was told to get
soldiers, and let no one leave the house."

"Citizen St. Just," cried Schneider, "you will not allow the
testimony of a ruffian like this, of a foolish girl, and a mad ex-
priest, to weigh against the word of one who has done such service
to the Republic: it is a base conspiracy to betray me; the whole
family is known to favor the interest of the émigrés."

"And therefore you would marry a member of the family, and allow
the others to escape; you must make a better defence, citizen
Schneider," said St. Just, sternly.

Here I came forward, and said that, three days since, I had
received an order to quit Strasburg for Paris immediately after a
conversation with Schneider, in which I had asked him his aid in
promoting my marriage with my cousin, Mary Ancel; that he had heard
from me full accounts regarding her father’s wealth; and that he
had abruptly caused my dismissal, in order to carry on his scheme
against her.

"You are in the uniform of a regiment of this town; who sent you
from it?" said St. Just.

I produced the order, signed by himself, and the despatches which
Schneider had sent me.

"The signature is mine, but the despatches did not come from my
office. Can you prove in any way your conversation with Schneider?"

"Why," said my sentimental friend Gregoire, "for the matter of
that, I can answer that the lad was always talking about this young
woman: he told me the whole story himself, and many a good laugh I
had with citizen Schneider as we talked about it."

"The charge against Edward Ancel must be examined into," said St.
Just. "The marriage cannot take place. But if I had ratified it,
Mary Ancel, what then would have been your course?"

Mary felt for a moment in her bosom, and said--"He would have died
to-night--I would have stabbed him with this dagger."*

* This reply, and, indeed, the whole of the story, is historical.
An account, by Charles Nodier, in the Revue de Paris, suggested it
to the writer.

The rain was beating down the streets, and yet they were thronged;
all the world was hastening to the market-place, where the worthy
Gregoire was about to perform some of the pleasant duties of his
office. On this occasion, it was not death that he was to inflict;
he was only to expose a criminal who was to be sent on afterwards
to Paris. St. Just had ordered that Schneider should stand for six
hours in the public place of Strasburg, and then be sent on to the
capital to be dealt with as the authorities might think fit.

The people followed with execrations the villain to his place of
punishment; and Gregoire grinned as he fixed up to the post the man
whose orders he had obeyed so often--who had delivered over to
disgrace and punishment so many who merited it not.

Schneider was left for several hours exposed to the mockery and
insults of the mob; he was then, according to his sentence, marched
on to Paris, where it is probable that he would have escaped death,
but for his own fault. He was left for some time in prison, quite
unnoticed, perhaps forgotten: day by day fresh victims were carried
to the scaffold, and yet the Alsacian tribune remained alive; at
last, by the mediation of one of his friends, a long petition was
presented to Robespierre, stating his services and his innocence,
and demanding his freedom. The reply to this was an order for his
instant execution: the wretch died in the last days of Robespierre’s
reign. His comrade, St. Just, followed him, as you know; but Edward
Ancel had been released before this, for the action of my brave Mary
had created a strong feeling in his favor.

"And Mary?" said I.

Here a stout and smiling old lady entered the Captain’s little
room: she was leaning on the arm of a military-looking man of some
forty years, and followed by a number of noisy, rosy children.

"This is Mary Ancel," said the Captain, "and I am Captain Pierre,
and yonder is the Colonel, my son; and you see us here assembled in
force, for it is the fête of little Jacob yonder, whose brothers
and sisters have all come from their schools to dance at his


Beatrice Merger, whose name might figure at the head of one of Mr.
Colburn’s politest romances--so smooth and aristocratic does it
sound--is no heroine, except of her own simple history; she is not
a fashionable French Countess, nor even a victim of the Revolution.

She is a stout, sturdy girl of two-and-twenty, with a face beaming
with good nature, and marked dreadfully by smallpox; and a pair of
black eyes, which might have done some execution had they been
placed in a smoother face. Beatrice’s station in society is not
very exalted; she is a servant of all-work: she will dress your
wife, your dinner, your children; she does beefsteaks and plain
work; she makes beds, blacks boots, and waits at table;--such, at
least, were the offices which she performed in the fashionable
establishment of the writer of this book: perhaps her history may
not inaptly occupy a few pages of it.

"My father died," said Beatrice, "about six years since, and left
my poor mother with little else but a small cottage and a strip of
land, and four children too young to work. It was hard enough in
my father’s time to supply so many little mouths with food; and how
was a poor widowed woman to provide for them now, who had neither
the strength nor the opportunity for labor?

"Besides us, to be sure, there was my old aunt; and she would have
helped us, but she could not, for the old woman is bed-ridden; so
she did nothing but occupy our best room, and grumble from morning
till night: heaven knows, poor old soul, that she had no great
reason to be very happy; for you know, sir, that it frets the
temper to be sick; and that it is worse still to be sick and hungry

"At that time, in the country where we lived (in Picardy, not very
far from Boulogne), times were so bad that the best workman could
hardly find employ; and when he did, he was happy if he could earn
a matter of twelve sous a day. Mother, work as she would, could
not gain more than six; and it was a hard job, out of this, to put
meat into six bellies, and clothing on six backs. Old Aunt Bridget
would scold, as she got her portion of black bread; and my little
brothers used to cry if theirs did not come in time. I, too, used
to cry when I got my share; for mother kept only a little, little
piece for herself, and said that she had dined in the fields,--God
pardon her for the lie! and bless her, as I am sure He did; for,
but for Him, no working man or woman could subsist upon such a
wretched morsel as my dear mother took.

"I was a thin, ragged, barefooted girl, then, and sickly and weak
for want of food; but I think I felt mother’s hunger more than my
own: and many and many a bitter night I lay awake, crying, and
praying to God to give me means of working for myself and aiding
her. And he has, indeed, been good to me," said pious Beatrice,
"for He has given me all this!

"Well, time rolled on, and matters grew worse than ever: winter
came, and was colder to us than any other winter, for our clothes
were thinner and more torn; mother sometimes could find no work,
for the fields in which she labored were hidden under the snow; so
that when we wanted them most we had them least--warmth, work, or

"I knew that, do what I would, mother would never let me leave her,
because I looked to my little brothers and my old cripple of an
aunt; but still, bread was better for us than all my service; and
when I left them the six would have a slice more; so I determined
to bid good-by to nobody, but to go away, and look for work
elsewhere. One Sunday, when mother and the little ones were at
church, I went in to Aunt Bridget, and said, ‘Tell mother, when she
comes back, that Beatrice is gone.’ I spoke quite stoutly, as if I
did not care about it.

"‘Gone! gone where?’ said she. ‘You ain’t going to leave me alone,
you nasty thing; you ain’t going to the village to dance, you
ragged, barefooted slut: you’re all of a piece in this house--your
mother, your brothers, and you. I know you’ve got meat in the
kitchen, and you only give me black bread;’ and here the old lady
began to scream as if her heart would break; but we did not mind
it, we were so used to it.

"'Aunt,' said I, 'I'm going, and took this very opportunity because
you WERE alone: tell mother I am too old now to eat her bread, and
do no work for it: I am going, please God, where work and bread can
be found:' and so I kissed her: she was so astonished that she
could not move or speak; and I walked away through the old room,
and the little garden, God knows whither!

"I heard the old woman screaming after me, but I did not stop nor
turn round. I don't think I could, for my heart was very full; and
if I had gone back again, I should never have had the courage to go
away. So I walked a long, long way, until night fell; and I
thought of poor mother coming home from mass, and not finding me;
and little Pierre shouting out, in his clear voice, for Beatrice to
bring him his supper. I think I should like to have died that
night, and I thought I should too; for when I was obliged to throw
myself on the cold, hard ground, my feet were too torn and weary to
bear me any further.

"Just then the moon got up; and do you know I felt a comfort in
looking at it, for I knew it was shining on our little cottage, and
it seemed like an old friend's face? A little way on, as I saw by
the moon, was a village: and I saw, too, that a man was coming
towards me; he must have heard me crying, I suppose.

"Was not God good to me? This man was a farmer, who had need of a
girl in his house; he made me tell him why I was alone, and I told
him the same story I have told you, and he believed me and took me
home. I had walked six long leagues from our village that day,
asking everywhere for work in vain; and here, at bedtime, I found a
bed and a supper!

"Here I lived very well for some months; my master was very good
and kind to me; but, unluckily, too poor to give me any wages; so
that I could save nothing to send to my poor mother. My mistress
used to scold; but I was used to that at home, from Aunt Bridget:
and she beat me sometimes, but I did not mind it; for your hardy
country girl is not like your tender town lasses, who cry if a pin
pricks them, and give warning to their mistresses at the first hard
word. The only drawback to my comfort was, that I had no news of
my mother; I could not write to her, nor could she have read my
letter, if I had; so there I was, at only six leagues' distance
from home, as far off as if I had been to Paris or to 'Merica.

"However, in a few months I grew so listless and homesick, that my
mistress said she would keep me no longer; and though I went away
as poor as I came, I was still too glad to go back to the old
village again, and see dear mother, if it were but for a day. I
knew she would share her crust with me, as she had done for so long
a time before; and hoped that, now, as I was taller and stronger, I
might find work more easily in the neighborhood.

"You may fancy what a fête it was when I came back; though I'm sure
we cried as much as if it had been a funeral. Mother got into a
fit, which frightened us all; and as for Aunt Bridget, she SKREELED
away for hours together, and did not scold for two days at least.
Little Pierre offered me the whole of his supper; poor little man!
his slice of bread was no bigger than before I went away.

"Well, I got a little work here and a little there; but still I was
a burden at home rather than a bread-winner; and, at the closing-in
of the winter, was very glad to hear of a place at two leagues'
distance, where work, they said, was to be had. Off I set, one
morning, to find it, but missed my way, somehow, until it was
night-time before I arrived. Night-time and snow again; it seemed
as if all my journeys were to be made in this bitter weather.

"When I came to the farmer's door, his house was shut up, and his
people all a-bed; I knocked for a long while in vain; at last he
made his appearance at a window up stairs, and seemed so frightened,
and looked so angry that I suppose he took me for a thief. I told
him how I had come for work. 'Who comes for work at such an hour?'
said he. 'Go home, you impudent baggage, and do not disturb honest
people out of their sleep.' He banged the window to; and so I was
left alone to shift for myself as I might. There was no shed, no
cow-house, where I could find a bed; so I got under a cart, on some
straw; it was no very warm berth. I could not sleep for the cold:
and the hours passed so slowly, that it seemed as if I had been
there a week instead of a night; but still it was not so bad as the
first night when I left home, and when the good farmer found me.

"In the morning, before it was light, the farmer's people came out,
and saw me crouching under the cart: they told me to get up; but I
was so cold that I could not: at last the man himself came, and
recognized me as the girl who had disturbed him the night before.
When he heard my name, and the purpose for which I came, this good
man took me into the house, and put me into one of the beds out of
which his sons had just got; and, if I was cold before, you may be
sure I was warm and comfortable now! such a bed as this I had never
slept in, nor ever did I have such good milk-soup as he gave me out
of his own breakfast. Well, he agreed to hire me; and what do you
think he gave me?--six sous a day! and let me sleep in the cow-
house besides: you may fancy how happy I was now, at the prospect
of earning so much money.

"There was an old woman among the laborers who used to sell us
soup: I got a cupful every day for a half-penny, with a bit of
bread in it; and might eat as much beet-root besides as I liked;
not a very wholesome meal, to be sure, but God took care that it
should not disagree with me.

"So, every Saturday, when work was over, I had thirty sous to carry
home to mother; and tired though I was, I walked merrily the two
leagues to our village, to see her again. On the road there was a
great wood to pass through, and this frightened me; for if a thief
should come and rob me of my whole week's earnings, what could a
poor lone girl do to help herself? But I found a remedy for this
too, and no thieves ever came near me; I used to begin saying my
prayers as I entered the forest, and never stopped until I was safe
at home; and safe I always arrived, with my thirty sons in my
pocket. Ah! you may be sure, Sunday was a merry day for us all."

This is the whole of Beatrice's history which is worthy of
publication; the rest of it only relates to her arrival in Paris,
and the various masters and mistresses whom she there had the honor
to serve. As soon as she enters the capital the romance
disappears, and the poor girl's sufferings and privations luckily
vanish with it. Beatrice has got now warm gowns, and stout shoes,
and plenty of good food. She has had her little brother from
Picardy; clothed, fed, and educated him: that young gentleman is
now a carpenter, and an honor to his profession. Madame Merger is
in easy circumstances, and receives, yearly, fifty francs from her
daughter. To crown all, Mademoiselle Beatrice herself is a funded
proprietor, and consulted the writer of this biography as to the
best method of laying out a capital of two hundred francs, which is
the present amount of her fortune.

God bless her! she is richer than his Grace the Duke of Devonshire;
and, I dare say, has, in her humble walk, been more virtuous and
more happy than all the dukes in the realm.

It is, indeed, for the benefit of dukes and such great people (who,
I make no doubt, have long since ordered copies of these Sketches),
that poor little Beatrice's story has been indited. Certain it is,
that the young woman would never have been immortalized in this
way, but for the good which her betters may derive from her
example. If your ladyship will but reflect a little, after
boasting of the sums which you spend in charity; the beef and
blankets which you dole out at Christmas; the poonah-painting which
you execute for fancy fairs; the long, long sermons which you
listen to at St. George's, the whole year through;--your ladyship,
I say, will allow that, although perfectly meritorious in your
line, as a patroness of the Church of England, of Almack's, and of
the Lying-in Asylum, yours is but a paltry sphere of virtue, a
pitiful attempt at benevolence, and that this honest servant-girl
puts you to shame! And you, my Lord Bishop: do you, out of your
six sous a day, give away five to support your flock and family?
Would you drop a single coach-horse (I do not say, A DINNER, for
such a notion is monstrous, in one of your lordship's degree), to
feed any one of the starving children of your lordship's mother--
the Church?

I pause for a reply. His lordship took too much turtle and cold
punch for dinner yesterday, and cannot speak just now: but we have,
by this ingenious question, silenced him altogether: let the world
wag as it will, and poor Christians and curates starve as they may,
my lord's footmen must have their new liveries, and his horses
their four feeds a day.

When we recollect his speech about the Catholics--when we remember
his last charity sermon,--but I say nothing. Here is a poor
benighted superstitious creature, worshipping images, without a rag
to her tail, who has as much faith, and humility, and charity as
all the reverend bench.

This angel is without a place; and for this reason (besides the
pleasure of composing the above slap at episcopacy)--I have indited
her history. If the Bishop is going to Paris, and wants a good
honest maid-of-all-work, he can have her, I have no doubt; or if he
chooses to give a few pounds to her mother, they can be sent to Mr.
Titmarsh, at the publisher's.

Here is Miss Merger's last letter and autograph. The note was
evidently composed by an Ecrivain public:--

"Madame,--Ayant apris par ce Monsieur, que vous vous portiez bien,
ainsi que Monsieur, ayant su aussi que vous parliez de moi dans
votre lettre cette nouvelle m'a fait bien plaisir Je profite de
l'occasion pour vous faire passer ce petit billet où Je voudrais
pouvoir m'enveloper pour aller vous voir et pour vous dire que Je
suis encore sans place Je m'ennuye tojours de ne pas vous voir
ainsi que Minette (Minette is a cat) qui semble m'interroger tour a
tour et demander où vous êtes. Je vous envoye aussi la note du
linge a blanchir--ah, Madame! Je vais cesser de vous ecrire mais
non de vous regretter."

Beatrice Merger.


Fifty years ago there lived at Munich a poor fellow, by name Aloys
Senefelder, who was in so little repute as an author and artist,
that printers and engravers refused to publish his works at their
own charges, and so set him upon some plan for doing without their
aid. In the first place, Aloys invented a certain kind of ink,
which would resist the action of the acid that is usually employed
by engravers, and with this he made his experiments upon copper-
plates, as long as he could afford to purchase them. He found that
to write upon the plates backwards, after the manner of engravers,
required much skill and many trials; and he thought that, were he
to practise upon any other polished surface--a smooth stone, for
instance, the least costly article imaginable--he might spare the
expense of the copper until he had sufficient skill to use it.

One day, it is said, that Aloys was called upon to write--rather a
humble composition for an author and artist--a washing-bill. He
had no paper at hand, and so he wrote out the bill with some of his
newly-invented ink upon one of his Kelheim stones. Some time
afterwards he thought he would try and take an IMPRESSION of his
washing-bill: he did, and succeeded. Such is the story, which the
reader most likely knows very well; and having alluded to the
origin of the art, we shall not follow the stream through its
windings and enlargement after it issued from the little parent
rock, or fill our pages with the rest of the pedigree. Senefelder
invented Lithography. His invention has not made so much noise and
larum in the world as some others, which have an origin quite as
humble and unromantic; but it is one to which we owe no small
profit, and a great deal of pleasure; and, as such, we are bound to
speak of it with all gratitude and respect. The schoolmaster, who
is now abroad, has taught us, in our youth, how the cultivation of
art "emollit mores nec sinit esse"--(it is needless to finish the
quotation); and Lithography has been, to our thinking, the very
best ally that art ever had; the best friend of the artist,
allowing him to produce rapidly multiplied and authentic copies of
his own works (without trusting to the tedious and expensive
assistance of the engraver); and the best friend to the people
likewise, who have means of purchasing these cheap and beautiful
productions, and thus having their ideas "mollified" and their
manners "feros" no more.

With ourselves, among whom money is plenty, enterprise so great,
and everything matter of commercial speculation, Lithography has
not been so much practised as wood or steel engraving; which, by
the aid of great original capital and spread of sale, are able more
than to compete with the art of drawing on stone. The two former
may be called art done by MACHINERY. We confess to a prejudice in
favor of the honest work of HAND, in matters of art, and prefer the
rough workmanship of the painter to the smooth copies of his
performances which are produced, for the most part, on the wood-
block or the steel-plate.

The theory will possibly be objected to by many of our readers: the
best proof in its favor, we think, is, that the state of art
amongst the people in France and Germany, where publishers are not
so wealthy or enterprising as with us,* and where Lithography is
more practised, is infinitely higher than in England, and the
appreciation more correct. As draughtsmen, the French and German
painters are incomparably superior to our own; and with art, as
with any other commodity, the demand will be found pretty equal to
the supply: with us, the general demand is for neatness, prettiness,
and what is called EFFECT in pictures, and these can be rendered
completely, nay, improved, by the engraver's conventional manner of
copying the artist's performances. But to copy fine expression and
fine drawing, the engraver himself must be a fine artist; and let
anybody examine the host of picture-books which appear every
Christmas, and say whether, for the most part, painters or engravers
possess any artistic merit? We boast, nevertheless, of some of the
best engravers and painters in Europe. Here, again, the supply is
accounted for by the demand; our highest class is richer than any
other aristocracy, quite as well instructed, and can judge and pay
for fine pictures and engravings. But these costly productions are
for the few, and not for the many, who have not yet certainly
arrived at properly appreciating fine art.

* These countries are, to be sure, inundated with the productions
of our market, in the shape of Byron Beauties, reprints from the
"Keepsakes," "Books of Beauty," and such trash; but these are only
of late years, and their original schools of art are still

Take the standard "Album" for instance--that unfortunate collection
of deformed Zuleikas and Medoras (from the "Byron Beauties"), the
Flowers, Gems, Souvenirs, Caskets of Loveliness, Beauty, as they
way be called; glaring caricatures of flowers, singly, in groups,
in flower-pots, or with hideous deformed little Cupids sporting
among them; of what are called "mezzotinto," pencil-drawings,
"poonah-paintings," and what not. "The Album" is to be found
invariably upon the round rosewood brass-inlaid drawing-room table
of the middle classes, and with a couple of "Annuals" besides,
which flank it on the same table, represents the art of the house;
perhaps there is a portrait of the master of the house in the
dining-room, grim-glancing from above the mantel-piece; and of the
mistress over the piano up stairs; add to these some odious
miniatures of the sons and daughters, on each side of the chimney-
glass; and here, commonly (we appeal to the reader if this is an
overcharged picture), the collection ends. The family goes to the
Exhibition once a year, to the National Gallery once in ten years:
to the former place they have an inducement to go; there are their
own portraits, or the portraits of their friends, or the portraits
of public characters; and you will see them infallibly wondering
over No. 2645 in the catalogue, representing "The Portrait of a
Lady," or of the "First Mayor of Little Pedlington since the
passing of the Reform Bill;" or else bustling and squeezing among
the miniatures, where lies the chief attraction of the Gallery.
England has produced, owing to the effects of this class of
admirers of art, two admirable, and five hundred very clever,
portrait painters. How many ARTISTS? Let the reader count upon
his five fingers, and see if, living at the present moment, he can
name one for each.

If, from this examination of our own worthy middle classes, we look
to the same class in France, what a difference do we find! Humble
café's in country towns have their walls covered with pleasing
picture papers, representing "Les Gloires de l'Armée Française,"
the "Seasons," the "Four Quarters of the World," "Cupid and
Psyche," or some other allegory, landscape or history, rudely
painted, as papers for walls usually are; but the figures are all
tolerably well drawn; and the common taste, which has caused a
demand for such things, is undeniable. In Paris, the manner in
which the cafés and houses of the restaurateurs are ornamented, is,
of course, a thousand times richer, and nothing can be more
beautiful, or more exquisitely finished and correct, than the
designs which adorn many of them. We are not prepared to say what
sums were expended upon the painting of "Véry's" or "Véfour's," of
the "Salle Musard," or of numberless other places of public resort
in the capital. There is many a shop-keeper whose sign is a very
tolerable picture; and often have we stopped to admire (the reader
will give us credit for having remained OUTSIDE) the excellent
workmanship of the grapes and vine-leaves over the door of some
very humble, dirty, inodorous shop of a marchand de vin.

These, however, serve only to educate the public taste, and are
ornaments for the most part much too costly for the people. But
the same love of ornament which is shown in their public places of
resort, appears in their houses likewise; and every one of our
readers who has lived in Paris, in any lodging, magnificent or
humble, with any family, however poor, may bear witness how
profusely the walls of his smart salon in the English quarter, or
of his little room au sixième in the Pays Latin, has been decorated
with prints of all kinds. In the first, probably, with bad
engravings on copper from the bad and tawdry pictures of the
artists of the time of the Empire; in the latter, with gay
caricatures of Granville or Monnier: military pieces, such as are
dashed off by Raffet, Charlet, Vernet (one can hardly say which of
the three designers has the greatest merit, or the most vigorous
hand); or clever pictures from the crayon of the Deverias, the
admirable Roqueplan, or Decamp. We have named here, we believe,
the principal lithographic artists in Paris; and those--as
doubtless there are many--of our readers who have looked over
Monsieur Aubert's portfolios, or gazed at that famous caricature-
shop window in the Rue de Coq, or are even acquainted with the
exterior of Monsieur Delaporte's little emporium in the Burlington
Arcade, need not be told how excellent the productions of all these
artists are in their genre. We get in these engravings the loisirs
of men of genius, not the finikin performances of labored mediocrity,
as with us: all these artists are good painters, as well as good
designers; a design from them is worth a whole gross of Books of
Beauty; and if we might raise a humble supplication to the artists
in our own country of similar merit--to such men as Leslie, Maclise,
Herbert, Cattermole, and others--it would be, that they should,
after the example of their French brethren and of the English
landscape painters, take chalk in hand, produce their own copies of
their own sketches, and never more draw a single "Forsaken One,"
"Rejected One," "Dejected One" at the entreaty of any publisher or
for the pages of any Book of Beauty, Royalty, or Loveliness

Can there be a more pleasing walk in the whole world than a stroll
through the Gallery of the Louvre on a fête-day; not to look so
much at the pictures as at the lookers-on? Thousands of the poorer
classes are there: mechanics in their Sunday clothes, smiling
grisettes, smart dapper soldiers of the line, with bronzed
wondering faces, marching together in little companies of six or
seven, and stopping every now and then at Napoleon or Leonidas as
they appear in proper vulgar heroics in the pictures of David or
Gros. The taste of these people will hardly be approved by the
connoisseur, but they have A taste for art. Can the same be said
of our lower classes, who, if they are inclined to be sociable and
amused in their holidays, have no place of resort but the tap-room
or tea-garden, and no food for conversation except such as can be
built upon the politics or the police reports of the last Sunday
paper? So much has Church and State puritanism done for us--so
well has it succeeded in materializing and binding down to the
earth the imagination of men, for which God has made another world
(which certain statesmen take but too little into account)--that
fair and beautiful world of heart, in which there CAN be nothing
selfish or sordid, of which Dulness has forgotten the existence,
and which Bigotry has endeavored to shut out from sight--

"On a banni les démons et les fées,
Le raisonner tristement s'accrédite:
On court, helas! après la vérité:
Ah! croyez moi, l'erreur a son mérite!"

We are not putting in a plea here for demons and fairies, as
Voltaire does in the above exquisite lines; nor about to expatiate
on the beauties of error, for it has none; but the clank of steam-
engines, and the shouts of politicians, and the struggle for gain
or bread, and the loud denunciations of stupid bigots, have
wellnigh smothered poor Fancy among us. We boast of our science,
and vaunt our superior morality. Does the latter exist? In spite
of all the forms which our policy has invented to secure it--in
spite of all the preachers, all the meeting-houses, and all the
legislative enactments--if any person will take upon himself the
painful labor of purchasing and perusing some of the cheap
periodical prints which form the people's library of amusement, and
contain what may be presumed to be their standard in matters of
imagination and fancy, he will see how false the claim is that we
bring forward of superior morality. The aristocracy who are so
eager to maintain, were, of course, not the last to feel annoyance
of the legislative restrictions on the Sabbath, and eagerly seized
upon that happy invention for dissipating the gloom and ennui
ordered by Act of Parliament to prevail on that day--the Sunday
paper. It might be read in a club-room, where the poor could not
see how their betters ordained one thing for the vulgar, and
another for themselves; or in an easy-chair, in the study, whither
my lord retires every Sunday for his devotions. It dealt in
private scandal and ribaldry, only the more piquant for its pretty
flimsy veil of double-entendre. It was a fortune to the publisher,
and it became a necessary to the reader, which he could not do
without, any more than without his snuff-box, his opera-box, or his
chasse after coffee. The delightful novelty could not for any time
be kept exclusively for the haut ton; and from my lord it descended
to his valet or tradesmen, and from Grosvenor Square it spread all
the town through; so that now the lower classes have their scandal
and ribaldry organs, as well as their betters (the rogues, they
WILL imitate them!) and as their tastes are somewhat coarser than
my lord's, and their numbers a thousand to one, why of course the
prints have increased, and the profligacy has been diffused in a
ratio exactly proportionable to the demand, until the town is
infested with such a number of monstrous publications of the kind
as would have put Abbé Dubois to the blush, or made Louis XV. cry
shame. Talk of English morality!--the worst licentiousness, in the
worst period of the French monarchy, scarcely equalled the
wickedness of this Sabbath-keeping country of ours.

The reader will be glad, at last, to come to the conclusion that
we would fain draw from all these descriptions--why does this
immorality exist? Because the people MUST be amused, and have not
been taught HOW; because the upper classes, frightened by stupid
cant, or absorbed in material wants, have not as yet learned the
refinement which only the cultivation of art can give; and when
their intellects are uneducated, and their tastes are coarse, the
tastes and amusements of classes still more ignorant must be coarse
and vicious likewise, in an increased proportion.

Such discussions and violent attacks upon high and low, Sabbath
Bills, politicians, and what not, may appear, perhaps, out of place
in a few pages which purport only to give an account of some French
drawings: all we would urge is, that, in France, these prints are
made because they are liked and appreciated; with us they are not
made, because they are not liked and appreciated: and the more is
the pity. Nothing merely intellectual will be popular among us: we
do not love beauty for beauty's sake, as Germans; or wit, for wit's
sake, as the French: for abstract art we have no appreciation. We
admire H. B.'s caricatures, because they are the caricatures of
well-known political characters, not because they are witty; and
Boz, because he writes us good palpable stories (if we may use such
a word to a story); and Madame Vestris, because she has the most
beautifully shaped legs;--the ART of the designer, the writer, the
actress (each admirable in its way,) is a very minor consideration;
each might have ten times the wit, and would be quite unsuccessful
without their substantial points of popularity.

In France such matters are far better managed, and the love of art
is a thousand times more keen; and (from this feeling, surely) how
much superiority is there in French SOCIETY over our own; how much
better is social happiness understood; how much more manly equality
is there between Frenchman and Frenchman, than between rich and
poor in our own country, with all our superior wealth, instruction,
and political freedom! There is, amongst the humblest, a gayety,
cheerfulness, politeness, and sobriety, to which, in England, no
class can show a parallel: and these, be it remembered, are not
only qualities for holidays, but for working-days too, and add to
the enjoyment of human life as much as good clothes, good beef, or
good wages. If, to our freedom, we could but add a little of their
happiness!--it is one, after all, of the cheapest commodities in
the world, and in the power of every man (with means of gaining
decent bread) who has the will or the skill to use it.

We are not going to trace the history of the rise and progress of
art in France; our business, at present, is only to speak of one
branch of art in that country--lithographic designs, and those
chiefly of a humorous character. A history of French caricature
was published in Paris, two or three years back, illustrated by
numerous copies of designs, from the time of Henry III. to our own
day. We can only speak of this work from memory, having been
unable, in London, to procure the sight of a copy; but our
impression, at the time we saw the collection, was as unfavorable
as could possibly be: nothing could be more meagre than the wit, or
poorer than the execution, of the whole set of drawings. Under the
Empire, art, as may be imagined, was at a very low ebb; and, aping
the Government of the day, and catering to the national taste and
vanity, it was a kind of tawdry caricature of the sublime; of which
the pictures of David and Girodet, and almost the entire collection
now at the Luxembourg Palace, will give pretty fair examples.
Swollen, distorted, unnatural, the painting was something like the
politics of those days; with force in it, nevertheless, and
something of grandeur, that will exist in spite of taste, and is
born of energetic will. A man, disposed to write comparisons of
characters, might, for instance, find some striking analogies
between mountebank Murat, with his irresistible bravery and
horsemanship, who was a kind of mixture of Dugueselin and Ducrow,
and Mountebank David, a fierce, powerful painter and genius, whose
idea of beauty and sublimity seemed to have been gained from the
bloody melodramas on the Boulevard. Both, however, were great in
their way, and were worshipped as gods, in those heathen times of
false belief and hero-worship.

As for poor caricature and freedom of the press, they, like the
rightful princess in a fairy tale, with the merry fantastic dwarf,
her attendant, were entirely in the power of the giant who ruled
the land. The Princess Press was so closely watched and guarded
(with some little show, nevertheless, of respect for her rank),
that she dared not utter a word of her own thoughts; and, for poor
Caricature, he was gagged, and put out of the way altogether:
imprisoned as completely as ever Asmodeus was in his phial.

How the Press and her attendant fared in succeeding reigns, is well
known; their condition was little bettered by the downfall of
Napoleon: with the accession of Charles X. they were more oppressed
even than before--more than they could bear; for so hard were they
pressed, that, as one has seen when sailors are working a capstan,
back of a sudden the bars flew, knocking to the earth the men who
were endeavoring to work them. The Revolution came, and up sprung
Caricature in France; all sorts of fierce epigrams were discharged
at the flying monarch, and speedily were prepared, too, for the new

About this time there lived at Paris (if our information be
correct) a certain M. Philipon, an indifferent artist (painting was
his profession), a tolerable designer, and an admirable wit. M.
Philipon designed many caricatures himself, married the sister of
an eminent publisher of prints (M. Aubert), and the two, gathering
about them a body of wits and artists like themselves, set up
journals of their own:--La Caricature, first published once a week;
and the Charivari afterwards, a daily paper, in which a design also
appears daily.

At first the caricatures inserted in the Charivari were chiefly
political; and a most curious contest speedily commenced between
the State and M. Philipon's little army in the Galérie Véro-Dodat.
Half a dozen poor artists on the one side, and his Majesty Louis
Philippe, his august family, and the numberless placemen and
supporters of the monarchy, on the other; it was something like
Thersites girding at Ajax, and piercing through the folds of the
clypei septemplicis with the poisonous shafts of his scorn. Our
French Thersites was not always an honest opponent, it must be
confessed; and many an attack was made upon the gigantic enemy,
which was cowardly, false, and malignant. But to see the monster
writhing under the effects of the arrow--to see his uncouth fury in
return, and the blind blows that he dealt at his diminutive
opponent!--not one of these told in a hundred; when they DID tell,
it may be imagined that they were fierce enough in all conscience,
and served almost to annihilate the adversary.

To speak more plainly, and to drop the metaphor of giant and dwarf,
the King of the French suffered so much, his Ministers were so
mercilessly ridiculed, his family and his own remarkable figure
drawn with such odious and grotesque resemblance, in fanciful
attitudes, circumstances, and disguises, so ludicrously mean, and
often so appropriate, that the King was obliged to descend into the
lists and battle his ridiculous enemy in form. Prosecutions,
seizures, fines, regiments of furious legal officials, were first
brought into play against poor M. Philipon and his little dauntless
troop of malicious artists; some few were bribed out of his ranks;
and if they did not, like Gilray in England, turn their weapons
upon their old friends, at least laid down their arms, and would
fight no more. The bribes, fines, indictments, and loud-tongued
avocats du roi made no impression; Philipon repaired the defeat of
a fine by some fresh and furious attack upon his great enemy; if
his epigrams were more covert, they were no less bitter; if he was
beaten a dozen times before a jury, he had eighty or ninety
victories to show in the same field of battle, and every victory
and every defeat brought him new sympathy. Every one who was at
Paris a few years since must recollect the famous "poire" which was
chalked upon all the walls of the city, and which bore so ludicrous
a resemblance to Louis Philippe. The poire became an object of
prosecution, and M. Philipon appeared before a jury to answer for
the crime of inciting to contempt against the King's person, by
giving such a ludicrous version of his face. Philipon, for
defence, produced a sheet of paper, and drew a poire, a real large
Burgundy pear: in the lower parts round and capacious, narrower
near the stalk, and crowned with two or three careless leaves.
"There was no treason in THAT," he said to the jury; "could any one
object to such a harmless botanical representation?" Then he drew
a second pear, exactly like the former, except that one or two
lines were scrawled in the midst of it, which bore somehow a
ludicrous resemblance to the eyes, nose, and mouth of a celebrated
personage; and, lastly, he drew the exact portrait of Louis
Philippe; the well-known toupet, the ample whiskers and jowl were
there, neither extenuated nor set down in malice. "Can I help it,
gentlemen of the jury, then," said he, "if his Majesty's face is
like a pear? Say yourselves, respectable citizens, is it, or is it
not, like a pear?" Such eloquence could not fail of its effect;
the artist was acquitted, and La poire is immortal.

At last came the famous September laws: the freedom of the Press,
which, from August, 1830, was to be "désormais une vérité," was
calmly strangled by the Monarch who had gained his crown for his
supposed championship of it; by his Ministers, some of whom had
been stout Republicans on paper but a few years before; and by the
Chamber, which, such is the blessed constitution of French
elections, will generally vote, unvote, revote in any way the
Government wishes. With a wondrous union, and happy forgetfulness
of principle, monarch, ministers, and deputies issued the
restriction laws; the Press was sent to prison; as for the poor
dear Caricature, it was fairly murdered. No more political satires
appear now, and "through the eye, correct the heart;" no more
poires ripen on the walls of the metropolis; Philipon's political
occupation is gone.

But there is always food for satire; and the French caricaturists,
being no longer allowed to hold up to ridicule and reprobation the
King and the deputies, have found no lack of subjects for the
pencil in the ridicules and rascalities of common life. We have
said that public decency is greater amongst the French than amongst
us, which, to some of our readers, may appear paradoxical; but we
shall not attempt to argue that, in private roguery, our neighbors
are not our equals. The procès of Gisquet, which has appeared
lately in the papers, shows how deep the demoralization must be,
and how a Government, based itself on dishonesty (a tyranny, that
is, under the title and fiction of a democracy,) must practise and
admit corruption in its own and in its agents' dealings with the
nation. Accordingly, of cheating contracts, of ministers dabbling
with the funds, or extracting underhand profits for the granting of
unjust privileges and monopolies,--of grasping, envious police
restrictions, which destroy the freedom, and, with it, the
integrity of commerce,--those who like to examine such details may
find plenty in French history: the whole French finance system has
been a swindle from the days of Luvois, or Law, down to the present
time. The Government swindles the public, and the small traders
swindle their customers, on the authority and example of the
superior powers. Hence the art of roguery, under such high
patronage, maintains in France a noble front of impudence, and a
fine audacious openness, which it does not wear in our country.

Among the various characters of roguery which the French satirists
have amused themselves by depicting, there is one of which the
GREATNESS (using the word in the sense which Mr. Jonathan Wild gave
to it) so far exceeds that of all others, embracing, as it does,
all in turn, that it has come to be considered the type of roguery
in general; and now, just as all the political squibs were made to
come of old from the lips of Pasquin, all the reflections on the
prevailing cant, knavery, quackery, humbug, are put into the mouth
of Monsieur Robert Macaire.

A play was written, some twenty years since, called the "Auberge
des Adrets," in which the characters of two robbers escaped from
the galleys were introduced--Robert Macaire, the clever rogue above
mentioned, and Bertrand, the stupid rogue, his friend, accomplice,
butt, and scapegoat, on all occasions of danger. It is needless to
describe the play--a witless performance enough, of which the joke
was Macaire's exaggerated style of conversation, a farrago of all
sorts of high-flown sentiments such as the French love to indulge
in--contrasted with his actions, which were philosophically
unscrupulous, and his appearance, which was most picturesquely
sordid. The play had been acted, we believe, and forgotten, when a
very clever actor, M. Frederick Lemaitre, took upon himself the
performance of the character of Robert Macaire, and looked, spoke,
and acted it to such admirable perfection, that the whole town rung
with applauses of the performance, and the caricaturists delighted
to copy his singular figure and costume. M. Robert Macaire appears
in a most picturesque green coat, with a variety of rents and
patches, a pair of crimson pantaloons ornamented in the same way,
enormous whiskers and ringlets, an enormous stock and shirt-frill,
as dirty and ragged as stock and shirt-frill can be, the relic of a
hat very gayly cocked over one eye, and a patch to take away
somewhat from the brightness of the other--these are the principal
pièces of his costume--a snuff-box like a creaking warming-pan, a
handkerchief hanging together by a miracle, and a switch of about
the thickness of a man's thigh, formed the ornaments of this
exquisite personage. He is a compound of Fielding's "Blueskin" and
Goldsmith's "Beau Tibbs." He has the dirt and dandyism of the one,
with the ferocity of the other: sometimes he is made to swindle,
but where he can get a shilling more, M. Macaire will murder
without scruple: he performs one and the other act (or any in the
scale between them) with a similar bland imperturbability, and
accompanies his actions with such philosophical remarks as may be
expected from a person of his talents, his energies, his amiable
life and character.

Bertrand is the simple recipient of Macaire's jokes, and makes
vicarious atonement for his crimes, acting, in fact, the part which
pantaloon performs in the pantomime, who is entirely under the
fatal influence of clown. He is quite as much a rogue as that
gentleman, but he has not his genius and courage. So, in
pantomimes, (it may, doubtless, have been remarked by the reader,)
clown always leaps first, pantaloon following after, more clumsily
and timidly than his bold and accomplished friend and guide.
Whatever blows are destined for clown, fall, by some means of ill-
luck, upon the pate of pantaloon: whenever the clown robs, the
stolen articles are sure to be found in his companion's pocket; and
thus exactly Robert Macaire and his companion Bertrand are made to
go through the world; both swindlers, but the one more accomplished
than the other. Both robbing all the world, and Robert robbing his
friend, and, in the event of danger, leaving him faithfully in the
lurch. There is, in the two characters, some grotesque good for
the spectator--a kind of "Beggars' Opera" moral.

Ever since Robert, with his dandified rags and airs, his cane and
snuff-box, and Bertrand with torn surtout and all-absorbing pocket,
have appeared on the stage, they have been popular with the
Parisians; and with these two types of clever and stupid knavery,
M. Philipon and his companion Daumier have created a world of
pleasant satire upon all the prevailing abuses of the day.

Almost the first figure that these audacious caricaturists dared to
depict was a political one: in Macaire's red breeches and tattered
coat appeared no less a personage than the King himself--the old
Poire--in a country of humbugs and swindlers the facile princeps;
fit to govern, as he is deeper than all the rogues in his
dominions. Bertrand was opposite to him, and having listened with
delight and reverence to some tale of knavery truly royal, was
exclaiming with a look and voice expressive of the most intense
admiration, "AH VIEUX BLAGEUR! va!"--the word blague is
untranslatable--it means FRENCH humbug as distinct from all other;
and only those who know the value of an epigram in France, an
epigram so wonderfully just, a little word so curiously
comprehensive, can fancy the kind of rage and rapture with which it
was received. It was a blow that shook the whole dynasty.
Thersites had there given such a wound to Ajax, as Hector in arms
could scarcely have inflicted: a blow sufficient almost to create
the madness to which the fabulous hero of Homer and Ovid fell a

Not long, however, was French caricature allowed to attack
personages so illustrious: the September laws came, and henceforth
no more epigrams were launched against politics; but the
caricaturists were compelled to confine their satire to subjects
and characters that had nothing to do with the State. The Duke of
Orleans was no longer to figure in lithography as the fantastic
Prince Rosolin; no longer were multitudes (in chalk) to shelter
under the enormous shadow of M. d'Argout's nose: Marshal Loban's
squirt was hung up in peace, and M. Thiers's pigmy figure and round
spectacled face were no more to appear in print.* Robert Macaire
was driven out of the Chambers and the Palace--his remarks were a
great deal too appropriate and too severe for the ears of the great
men who congregated in those places.

* Almost all the principal public men had been most ludicrously
caricatured in the Charivari: those mentioned above were usually
depicted with the distinctive attributes mentioned by us.

The Chambers and the Palace were shut to him; but the rogue, driven
out of his rogue's paradise, saw "that the world was all before him
where to choose," and found no lack of opportunities for exercising
his wit. There was the Bar, with its roguish practitioners,
rascally attorneys, stupid juries, and forsworn judges; there was
the Bourse, with all its gambling, swindling, and hoaxing, its
cheats and its dupes; the Medical Profession, and the quacks who
ruled it, alternately; the Stage, and the cant that was prevalent
there; the Fashion, and its thousand follies and extravagances.
Robert Macaire had all these to exploiter. Of all the empire,
through all the ranks, professions, the lies, crimes, and
absurdities of men, he may make sport at will; of all except of a
certain class. Like Bluebeard's wife, he may see everything, but
is bidden TO BEWARE OF THE BLUE CHAMBER. Robert is more wise than
Bluebeard's wife, and knows that it would cost him his head to
enter it. Robert, therefore, keeps aloof for the moment. Would
there be any use in his martyrdom? Bluebeard cannot live for ever;
perhaps, even now, those are on their way (one sees a suspicious
cloud of dust or two) that are to destroy him.

In the meantime Robert and his friend have been furnishing the
designs that we have before us, and of which perhaps the reader
will be edified by a brief description. We are not, to be sure, to
judge of the French nation by M. Macaire, any more than we are to
judge of our own national morals in the last century by such a book
as the "Beggars' Opera;" but upon the morals and the national
manners, works of satire afford a world of light that one would in
vain look for in regular books of history. Doctor Smollett would
have blushed to devote any considerable portion of his pages to a
discussion of the acts and character of Mr. Jonathan Wild, such a
figure being hardly admissible among the dignified personages who
usually push all others out from the possession of the historical
page; but a chapter of that gentleman's memoirs, as they are
recorded in that exemplary recueil--the "Newgate Calendar;" nay, a
canto of the great comic epic (involving many fables, and
containing much exaggeration, but still having the seeds of truth)
which the satirical poet of those days wrote in celebration of him--
we mean Fielding's "History of Jonathan Wild the Great"--does seem
to us to give a more curious picture of the manners of those times
than any recognized history of them. At the close of his history
of George II., Smollett condescends to give a short chapter on
Literature and Manners. He speaks of Glover's "Leonidas," Cibber's
"Careless Husband," the poems of Mason, Gray, the two Whiteheads,
"the nervous style, extensive erudition, and superior sense of a
Corke; the delicate taste, the polished muse, and tender feeling of
a Lyttelton." "King," he says, "shone unrivalled in Roman
eloquence, the female sex distinguished themselves by their taste
and ingenuity. Miss Carter rivalled the celebrated Dacier in
learning and critical knowledge; Mrs. Lennox signalized herself by
many successful efforts of genius both in poetry and prose; and
Miss Reid excelled the celebrated Rosalba in portrait-painting,
both in miniature and at large, in oil as well as in crayons. The
genius of Cervantes was transferred into the novels of Fielding,
who painted the characters and ridiculed the follies of life with
equal strength, humor, and propriety. The field of history and
biography was cultivated by many writers of ability, among whom we
distinguish the copious Guthrie, the circumstantial Ralph, the
laborious Carte, the learned and elegant Robertson, and above all,
the ingenious, penetrating, and comprehensive Hume," &c. &c. We
will quote no more of the passage. Could a man in the best humor
sit down to write a graver satire? Who cares for the tender muse
of Lyttelton? Who knows the signal efforts of Mrs. Lennox's
genius? Who has seen the admirable performances, in miniature and
at large, in oil as well as in crayons, of Miss Reid? Laborious
Carte, and circumstantial Ralph, and copious Guthrie, where are
they, their works, and their reputation? Mrs. Lennox's name is
just as clean wiped out of the list of worthies as if she had never
been born; and Miss Reid, though she was once actual flesh and
blood, "rival in miniature and at large" of the celebrated Rosalba,
she is as if she had never been at all; her little farthing
rushlight of a soul and reputation having burnt out, and left
neither wick nor tallow. Death, too, has overtaken copious Guthrie
and circumstantial Ralph. Only a few know whereabouts is the grave
where lies laborious Carte; and yet, O wondrous power of genius!
Fielding's men and women are alive, though History's are not. The
progenitors of circumstantial Ralph sent forth, after much labor
and pains of making, educating, feeding, clothing, a real man
child, a great palpable mass of flesh, bones, and blood (we say
nothing about the spirit), which was to move through the world,
ponderous, writing histories, and to die, having achieved the title
of circumstantial Ralph; and lo! without any of the trouble that
the parents of Ralph had undergone, alone perhaps in a watch or
spunging-house, fuddled most likely, in the blandest, easiest, and
most good-humored way in the world, Henry Fielding makes a number
of men and women on so many sheets of paper, not only more amusing
than Ralph or Miss Reid, but more like flesh and blood, and more
alive now than they. Is not Amelia preparing her husband's little
supper? Is not Miss Snapp chastely preventing the crime of Mr.
Firebrand? Is not Parson Adams in the midst of his family, and Mr.
Wild taking his last bowl of punch with the Newgate Ordinary? Is
not every one of them a real substantial HAVE-been personage now--
more real than Reid or Ralph? For our parts, we will not take upon
ourselves to say that they do not exist somewhere else: that the
actions attributed to them have not really taken place; certain we
are that they are more worthy of credence than Ralph, who may or
may not have been circumstantial; who may or may not even have
existed, a point unworthy of disputation. As for Miss Reid, we
will take an affidavit that neither in miniature nor at large did
she excel the celebrated Rosalba; and with regard to Mrs. Lennox,
we consider her to be a mere figment, like Narcissa, Miss Tabitha
Bramble, or any hero or heroine depicted by the historian of
"Peregrine Pickle."

In like manner, after viewing nearly ninety portraits of Robert
Macaire and his friend Bertrand, all strongly resembling each
other, we are inclined to believe in them as historical personages,
and to canvass gravely the circumstances of their lives. Why
should we not? Have we not their portraits? Are not they
sufficient proofs? If not, we must discredit Napoleon (as
Archbishop Whately teaches), for about his figure and himself we
have no more authentic testimony.

Let the reality of M. Robert Macaire and his friend M. Bertrand be
granted, if but to gratify our own fondness for those exquisite
characters: we find the worthy pair in the French capital, mingling
with all grades of its society, pars magna in the intrigues,
pleasures, perplexities, rogueries, speculations, which are carried
on in Paris, as in our own chief city; for it need not be said that
roguery is of no country nor clime, but finds [Greek text omitted],
is a citizen of all countries where the quarters are good; among
our merry neighbors it finds itself very much at its ease.

Not being endowed, then, with patrimonial wealth, but compelled to
exercise their genius to obtain distinction, or even subsistence,
we see Messrs. Bertrand and Macaire, by turns, adopting all trades
and professions, and exercising each with their own peculiar
ingenuity. As public men, we have spoken already of their
appearance in one or two important characters, and stated that the
Government grew fairly jealous of them, excluding them from office,
as the Whigs did Lord Brougham. As private individuals, they are
made to distinguish themselves as the founders of journals,
sociétés en commandite (companies of which the members are
irresponsible beyond the amount of their shares), and all sorts of
commercial speculations, requiring intelligence and honesty on the
part of the directors, confidence and liberal disbursements from
the shareholders.

These are, among the French, so numerous, and have been of late
years (in the shape of Newspaper Companies, Bitumen Companies,
Galvanized-Iron Companies, Railroad Companies, &c.) pursued with
such a blind FUROR and lust of gain, by that easily excited and
imaginative people, that, as may be imagined, the satirist has
found plenty of occasion for remark, and M. Macaire and his friend
innumerable opportunities for exercising their talents.

We know nothing of M. Emile de Girardin, except that, in a duel, he
shot the best man in France, Armaud Carrel; and in Girardin's favor
it must be said, that he had no other alternative; but was right in
provoking the duel, seeing that the whole Republican party had
vowed his destruction, and that he fought and killed their
champion, as it were. We know nothing of M. Girardin's private
character: but, as far as we can judge from the French public
prints, he seems to be the most speculative of speculators, and, of
course, a fair butt for the malice of the caricaturists. His one
great crime, in the eyes of the French Republicans and Republican
newspaper proprietors, was, that Girardin set up a journal, as he
called it, "franchement monarchique,"--a journal in the pay of the
monarchy, that is,--and a journal that cost only forty francs by
the year. The National costs twice as much; the Charivari itself
costs half as much again; and though all newspapers, of all
parties, concurred in "snubbing" poor M. Girardin and his journal,
the Republican prints, were by far the most bitter against him,
thundering daily accusations and personalities; whether the abuse
was well or ill founded, we know not. Hence arose the duel with
Carrel; after the termination of which, Girardin put by his pistol,
and vowed, very properly, to assist in the shedding of no more
blood. Girardin had been the originator of numerous other
speculations besides the journal: the capital of these, like that
of the journal, was raised by shares, and the shareholders, by some
fatality, have found themselves wofully in the lurch; while
Girardin carries on the war gayly, is, or was, a member of the
Chamber of Deputies, has money, goes to Court, and possesses a
certain kind of reputation. He invented, we believe, the
"Institution Agronome de Coetbo,"* the "Physionotype," the "Journal
des Connoissances Utiles," the "Pantheon Littéraire," and the
system of "Primes"--premiums, that is--to be given, by lottery, to
certain subscribers in these institutions. Could Robert Macaire
see such things going on, and have no hand in them?

* It is not necessary to enter into descriptions of these various

Accordingly Messrs. Macaire and Bertrand are made the heroes of
many speculations of the kind. In almost the first print of our
collection, Robert discourses to Bertrand of his projects.
"Bertrand," says the disinterested admirer of talent and
enterprise, "j'adore l'industrie. Si tu veux nous créons une
banque, mais là, une vraie banque: capital cent millions de
millions, cent milliards de milliards d'actions. Nous enfonçons la
banque de France, les banquiers, les banquistes; nous enfonçons
tout le monde." "Oui," says Bertrand, very calm and stupid, "mais
les gendarmes?" "Que tu es bête, Bertrand: est-ce qu'on arrête un
millionaire?" Such is the key to M. Macaire's philosophy; and a
wise creed too, as times go.

Acting on these principles, Robert appears soon after; he has not
created a bank, but a journal. He sits in a chair of state, and
discourses to a shareholder. Bertrand, calm and stupid as before,
stands humbly behind. "Sir," says the editor of La Blague, journal
quotidienne, "our profits arise from a new combination. The
journal costs twenty francs; we sell it for twenty-three and a
half. A million subscribers make three millions and a half of
profits; there are my figures; contradict me by figures, or I will
bring an action for libel." The reader may fancy the scene takes
place in England, where many such a swindling prospectus has
obtained credit ere now. At Plate 33, Robert is still a journalist;
he brings to the editor of a paper an article of his composition, a
violent attack on a law. "My dear M. Macaire," says the editor,
"this must be changed; we must PRAISE this law." "Bon, bon!" says
our versatile Macaire. "Je vais retoucher ça, et je vous fais en
faveur de la loi UN ARTICLE MOUSSEUX."

Can such things be? Is it possible that French journalists can so
forget themselves? The rogues! they should come to England and
learn consistency. The honesty of the Press in England is like the
air we breathe, without it we die. No, no! in France, the satire
may do very well; but for England it is too monstrous. Call the
press stupid, call it vulgar, call it violent,--but honest it is.
Who ever heard of a journal changing its politics? O tempora! O
mores! as Robert Macaire says, this would be carrying the joke too

When he has done with newspapers, Robert Macaire begins to
distinguish himself on 'Change,* as a creator of companies, a
vender of shares, or a dabbler in foreign stock. "Buy my coal-mine
shares," shouts Robert; "gold mines, silver mines, diamond mines,
'sont de la pot-bouille de la ratatouille en comparaison de ma
houille.'" "Look," says he, on another occasion, to a very timid,
open-countenanced client, "you have a property to sell! I have
found the very man, a rich capitalist, a fellow whose bills are
better than bank-notes." His client sells; the bills are taken in
payment, and signed by that respectable capitalist, Monsieur de
Saint Bertrand. At Plate 81, we find him inditing a circular
letter to all the world, running thus: "Sir,--I regret to say that
your application for shares in the Consolidated European
Incombustible Blacking Association cannot be complied with, as all
the shares of the C. E. I. B. A. were disposed of on the day they
were issued. I have, nevertheless, registered your name, and in
case a second series should be put forth, I shall have the honor of
immediately giving you notice. I am, sir, yours, &c., the
Director, Robert Macaire."--"Print 300,000 of these," he says to
Bertrand, "and poison all France with them." As usual, the stupid
Bertrand remonstrates--"But we have not sold a single share; you
have not a penny in your pocket, and"--"Bertrand, you are an ass;
do as I bid you."

* We have given a description of a genteel Macaire in the account
of M. de Bernard's novels.

Will this satire apply anywhere in England? Have we any
Consolidated European Blacking Associations amongst us? Have we
penniless directors issuing El Dorado prospectuses, and jockeying
their shares through the market? For information on this head, we
must refer the reader to the newspapers; or if he be connected with
the city, and acquainted with commercial men, he will be able to
say whether ALL the persons whose names figure at the head of
announcements of projected companies are as rich as Rothschild, or
quite as honest as heart could desire.

When Macaire has sufficiently exploité the Bourse, whether as a
gambler in the public funds or other companies, he sagely perceives
that it is time to turn to some other profession, and, providing
himself with a black gown, proposes blandly to Bertrand to set up--
a new religion. "Mon ami," says the repentant sinner, "le temps de
la commandite va passer, MAIS LES BADAUDS NE PASSERONT PAS." (O
rare sentence! it should be written in letters of gold!) "OCCUPONS
NOUS DE CE QUI EST ÉTERNEL. Si nous fassions une réligion?" On
which M. Bertrand remarks, "A religion! what the devil--a religion
is not an easy thing to make." But Macaire's receipt is easy.
"Get a gown, take a shop," he says, "borrow some chairs, preach
about Napoleon, or the discovery of America, or Molière--and
there's a religion for you."

We have quoted this sentence more for the contrast it offers with
our own manners, than for its merits. After the noble paragraph,
"Les badauds ne passeront pas. Occupons nous de ce qui est
éternel," one would have expected better satire upon cant than the
words that follow. We are not in a condition to say whether the
subjects chosen are those that had been selected by Père Enfantin,
or Chatel, or Lacordaire; but the words are curious, we think, for
the very reason that the satire is so poor. The fact is, there is
no religion in Paris; even clever M. Philipon, who satirizes
everything, and must know, therefore, some little about the subject
which he ridicules, has nothing to say but, "Preach a sermon, and
that makes a religion; anything will do." If ANYTHING will do, it
is clear that the religious commodity is not in much demand.
Tartuffe had better things to say about hypocrisy in his time; but
then Faith was alive; now, there is no satirizing religious cant in
France, for its contrary, true religion, has disappeared altogether;
and having no substance, can cast no shadow. If a satirist would
lash the religious hypocrites in ENGLAND now--the High Church
hypocrites, the Low Church hypocrites, the promiscuous Dissenting
hypocrites, the No Popery hypocrites--he would have ample subject
enough. In France, the religious hypocrites went out with the
Bourbons. Those who remain pious in that country (or, rather, we
should say, in the capital, for of that we speak,) are unaffectedly
so, for they have no worldly benefit to hope for from their piety;
the great majority have no religion at all, and do not scoff at the
few, for scoffing is the minority's weapon, and is passed always to
the weaker side, whatever that may be. Thus H. B. caricatures the
Ministers: if by any accident that body of men should be dismissed
from their situations, and be succeeded by H. B.'s friends, the
Tories,--what must the poor artist do? He must pine away and die,
if he be not converted; he cannot always be paying compliments; for
caricature has a spice of Goethe's Devil in it, and is "der Geist
der stets verneint," the Spirit that is always denying.

With one or two of the French writers and painters of caricatures,
the King tried the experiment of bribery; which succeeded
occasionally in buying off the enemy, and bringing him from the
republican to the royal camp; but when there, the deserter was
never of any use. Figaro, when so treated, grew fat and
desponding, and lost all his sprightly VERVE; and Nemesis became as
gentle as a Quakeress. But these instances of "ratting" were not
many. Some few poets were bought over; but, among men following
the profession of the press, a change of politics is an
infringement of the point of honor, and a man must FIGHT as well as
apostatize. A very curious table might be made, signalizing the
difference of the moral standard between us and the French. Why is
the grossness and indelicacy, publicly permitted in England,
unknown in France, where private morality is certainly at a lower
ebb? Why is the point of private honor now more rigidly maintained
among the French? Why is it, as it should be, a moral disgrace for
a Frenchman to go into debt, and no disgrace for him to cheat his
customer? Why is there more honesty and less--more propriety and
less?--and how are we to account for the particular vices or
virtues which belong to each nation in its turn?

The above is the Reverend M. Macaire's solitary exploit as a
spiritual swindler: as MAÎTRE Macaire in the courts of law, as
avocat, avoué--in a humbler capacity even, as a prisoner at the
bar, he distinguishes himself greatly, as may be imagined. On one
occasion we find the learned gentleman humanely visiting an
unfortunate détenu--no other person, in fact, than his friend M.
Bertrand, who has fallen into some trouble, and is awaiting the
sentence of the law. He begins--

"Mon cher Bertrand, donne moi cent écus, je te fais acquitter

"J'ai pas d'argent."

"Hé bien, donne moi cent francs."

"Pas le sou."

"Tu n'as pas dix francs?"

"Pas un liard."

"Alors donne moi tes bottes, je plaiderai la circonstance

The manner in which Maitre Macaire soars from the cent écus (a high
point already) to the sublime of the boots, is in the best comic
style. In another instance he pleads before a judge, and,
mistaking his client, pleads for defendant, instead of plaintiff.
"The infamy of the plaintiff's character, my LUDS, renders his
testimony on such a charge as this wholly unavailing." "M.
Macaire, M. Macaire," cries the attorney, in a fright, "you are for
the plaintiff!" "This, my lords, is what the defendant WILL SAY.
This is the line of defence which the opposite party intend to
pursue; as if slanders like these could weigh with an enlightened
jury, or injure the spotless reputation of my client!" In this
story and expedient M. Macaire has been indebted to the English
bar. If there be an occupation for the English satirist in the
exposing of the cant and knavery of the pretenders to religion,
what room is there for him to lash the infamies of the law! On
this point the French are babes in iniquity compared to us--a
counsel prostituting himself for money is a matter with us so
stale, that it is hardly food for satire: which, to be popular,
must find some much more complicated and interesting knavery
whereon to exercise its skill.

M. Macaire is more skilful in love than in law, and appears once or
twice in a very amiable light while under the influence of the
tender passion. We find him at the head of one of those useful
establishments unknown in our country--a Bureau de Mariage: half a
dozen of such places are daily advertised in the journals: and "une
veuve de trente ans ayant une fortune de deux cent mille francs,"
or "une demoiselle de quinze aus, jolie, d'une famille très
distinguée, qui possède trente mille livres de rentes,"--
continually, in this kind-hearted way, are offering themselves to
the public: sometimes it is a gentleman, with a "physique
agréable,--des talens de société"--and a place under Government,
who makes a sacrifice of himself in a similar manner. In our
little historical gallery we find this philanthropic anti-Malthusian
at the head of an establishment of this kind, introducing a very
meek, simple-looking bachelor to some distinguished ladies of his
connoissance. "Let me present you, sir, to Madame de St. Bertrand"
(it is our old friend), "veuve de la grande armée, et Mdlle Eloa de
Wormspire. Ces dames brûlent de l'envie de faire votre connoissance.
Je les ai invitées à dîner chez vous ce soir: vous nous menerez à
l'opéra, et nous ferons une petite partie d'écarté. Tenez vous bien,
M. Gobard! ces dames ont des projets sur vous!"

Happy Gobard! happy system, which can thus bring the pure and
loving together, and acts as the best ally of Hymen! The
announcement of the rank and titles of Madame de St. Bertrand--
"veuve de la grande armée"--is very happy. "La grande armée" has
been a father to more orphans, and a husband to more widows, than
it ever made. Mistresses of cafés, old governesses, keepers of
boarding-houses, genteel beggars, and ladies of lower rank still,
have this favorite pedigree. They have all had malheurs (what kind
it is needless to particularize), they are all connected with the
grand homme, and their fathers were all colonels. This title
exactly answers to the "clergyman's daughter" in England--as, "A
young lady, the daughter of a clergyman, is desirous to teach," &c.
"A clergyman's widow receives into her house a few select," and so
forth. "Appeal to the benevolent.--By a series of unheard-of
calamities, a young lady, daughter of a clergyman in the west of
England, has been plunged," &c. &c. The difference is curious, as
indicating the standard of respectability.

The male beggar of fashion is not so well known among us as in
Paris, where street-doors are open; six or eight families live in a
house; and the gentleman who earns his livelihood by this
profession can make half a dozen visits without the trouble of
knocking from house to house, and the pain of being observed by the
whole street, while the footman is examining him from the area.
Some few may be seen in England about the inns of court, where the
locality is favorable (where, however, the owners of the chambers
are not proverbially soft of heart, so that the harvest must be
poor); but Paris is full of such adventurers,--fat, smooth-tongued,
and well dressed, with gloves and gilt-headed canes, who would be
insulted almost by the offer of silver, and expect your gold as
their right. Among these, of course, our friend Robert plays his
part; and an excellent engraving represents him, snuff-box in hand,
advancing to an old gentleman, whom, by his poodle, his powdered
head, and his drivelling, stupid look, one knows to be a Carlist of
the old régime. "I beg pardon," says Robert; "is it really
yourself to whom I have the honor of speaking?"--"It is." "Do you
take snuff?"--"I thank you."--"Sir, I have had misfortunes--I want
assistance. I am a Vendéan of illustrious birth. You know the
family of Macairbec--we are of Brest. My grandfather served the
King in his galleys; my father and I belong, also, to the marine.
Unfortunate suits at law have plunged us into difficulties, and I
do not hesitate to ask you for the succor of ten francs."--"Sir, I
never give to those I don't know."--"Right, sir, perfectly right.
Perhaps you will have the kindness to LEND me ten francs?"

The adventures of Doctor Macaire need not be described, because the
different degrees in quackery which are taken by that learned
physician are all well known in England, where we have the
advantage of many higher degrees in the science, which our
neighbors know nothing about. We have not Hahnemann, but we have
his disciples; we have not Broussais, but we have the College of
Health; and surely a dose of Morrison's pills is a sublimer
discovery than a draught of hot water. We had St. John Long, too--
where is his science?--and we are credibly informed that some
important cures have been effected by the inspired dignitaries of
"the church" in Newman Street which, if it continue to practise,
will sadly interfere with the profits of the regular physicians,
and where the miracles of the Abbé of Paris are about to be acted
over again.

In speaking of M. Macaire and his adventures, we have managed so
entirely to convince ourselves of the reality of the personage,
that we have quite forgotten to speak of Messrs. Philipon and
Daumier, who are, the one the inventor, the other the designer, of
the Macaire Picture Gallery. As works of esprit, these drawings
are not more remarkable than they are as works of art, and we never
recollect to have seen a series of sketches possessing more
extraordinary cleverness and variety. The countenance and figure
of Macaire and the dear stupid Bertrand are preserved, of course,
with great fidelity throughout; but the admirable way in which each
fresh character is conceived, the grotesque appropriateness of
Robert's every successive attitude and gesticulation, and the
variety of Bertrand's postures of invariable repose, the exquisite
fitness of all the other characters, who act their little part and
disappear from the scene, cannot be described on paper, or too
highly lauded. The figures are very carelessly drawn; but, if the
reader can understand us, all the attitudes and limbs are perfectly
CONCEIVED, and wonderfully natural and various. After pondering
over these drawings for some hours, as we have been while compiling
this notice of them, we have grown to believe that the personages
are real, and the scenes remain imprinted on the brain as if we had
absolutely been present at their acting. Perhaps the clever way in
which the plates are colored, and the excellent effect which is put
into each, may add to this illusion. Now, in looking, for
instance, at H. B.'s slim vapory figures, they have struck us as
excellent LIKENESSES of men and women, but no more: the bodies want
spirit, action, and individuality. George Cruikshank, as a
humorist, has quite as much genius, but he does not know the art of
"effect" so well as Monsieur Daumier; and, if we might venture to
give a word of advice to another humorous designer, whose works are
extensively circulated--the illustrator of "Pickwick" and "Nicholas
Nickleby,"--it would be to study well these caricatures of Monsieur
Daumier; who, though he executes very carelessly, knows very well
what he would express, indicates perfectly the attitude and
identity of his figure, and is quite aware, beforehand, of the
effect which he intends to produce. The one we should fancy to be
a practised artist, taking his ease; the other, a young one,
somewhat bewildered: a very clever one, however, who, if he would
think more, and exaggerate less, would add not a little to his

Having pursued, all through these remarks, the comparison between
English art and French art, English and French humor, manners, and
morals, perhaps we should endeavor, also, to write an analytical
essay on English cant or humbug, as distinguished from French. It
might be shown that the latter was more picturesque and startling,
the former more substantial and positive. It has none of the
poetic flights of the French genius, but advances steadily, and
gains more ground in the end than its sprightlier compeer. But
such a discussion would carry us through the whole range of French
and English history, and the reader has probably read quite enough
of the subject in this and the foregoing pages.

We shall, therefore, say no more of French and English caricatures
generally, or of Mr. Macaire's particular accomplishments and
adventures. They are far better understood by examining the
original pictures, by which Philipon and Daumier have illustrated
them, than by translations first into print and afterwards into
English. They form a very curious and instructive commentary upon
the present state of society in Paris, and a hundred years hence,
when the whole of this struggling, noisy, busy, merry race shall
have exchanged their pleasures or occupations for a quiet coffin
(and a tawdry lying epitaph) at Montmartre, or Père la Chaise; when
the follies here recorded shall have been superseded by new ones,
and the fools now so active shall have given up the inheritance of
the world to their children: the latter will, at least, have the
advantage of knowing, intimately and exactly, the manners of life
and being of their grandsires, and calling up, when they so choose
it, our ghosts from the grave, to live, love, quarrel, swindle,
suffer, and struggle on blindly as of yore. And when the amused
speculator shall have laughed sufficiently at the immensity of our
follies, and the paltriness of our aims, smiled at our exploded
superstitions, wondered how this man should be considered great,
who is now clean forgotten (as copious Guthrie before mentioned);
how this should have been thought a patriot who is but a knave
spouting commonplace; or how that should have been dubbed a
philosopher who is but a dull fool, blinking solemn, and pretending
to see in the dark; when he shall have examined all these at his
leisure, smiling in a pleasant contempt and good-humored
superiority, and thanking heaven for his increased lights, he will
shut the book, and be a fool as his fathers were before him.

It runs in the blood. Well hast thou said, O ragged Macaire,--"Le


About the year 1760, there lived, at Paris, a little fellow, who
was the darling of all the wags of his acquaintance. Nature
seemed, in the formation of this little man, to have amused
herself, by giving loose to half a hundred of her most comical
caprices. He had some wit and drollery of his own, which sometimes
rendered his sallies very amusing; but, where his friends laughed
with him once, they laughed at him a thousand times, for he had a
fund of absurdity in himself that was more pleasant than all the
wit in the world. He was as proud as a peacock, as wicked as an
ape, and as silly as a goose. He did not possess one single grain
of common sense; but, in revenge, his pretensions were enormous,
his ignorance vast, and his credulity more extensive still. From
his youth upwards, he had read nothing but the new novels, and the
verses in the almanacs, which helped him not a little in making,
what he called, poetry of his own; for, of course, our little hero
was a poet. All the common usages of life, all the ways of the
world, and all the customs of society, seemed to be quite unknown
to him; add to these good qualities, a magnificent conceit, a
cowardice inconceivable, and a face so irresistibly comic, that
every one who first beheld it was compelled to burst out a-
laughing, and you will have some notion of this strange little
gentleman. He was very proud of his voice, and uttered all his
sentences in the richest tragic tone. He was little better than a
dwarf; but he elevated his eyebrows, held up his neck, walked on
the tips of his toes, and gave himself the airs of a giant. He had
a little pair of bandy legs, which seemed much too short to support
anything like a human body; but, by the help of these crooked
supporters, he thought he could dance like a Grace; and, indeed,
fancied all the graces possible were to be found in his person.
His goggle eyes were always rolling about wildly, as if in
correspondence with the disorder of his little brain and his
countenance thus wore an expression of perpetual wonder. With such
happy natural gifts, he not only fell into all traps that were laid
for him, but seemed almost to go out of his way to seek them;
although, to be sure, his friends did not give him much trouble in
that search, for they prepared hoaxes for him incessantly.

One day the wags introduced him to a company of ladies, who, though
not countesses and princesses exactly, took, nevertheless, those
titles upon themselves for the nonce; and were all, for the same
reason, violently smitten with Master Poinsinet's person. One of
them, the lady of the house, was especially tender; and, seating
him by her side at supper, so plied him with smiles, ogles, and
champagne, that our little hero grew crazed with ecstasy, and wild
with love. In the midst of his happiness, a cruel knock was heard
below, accompanied by quick loud talking, swearing, and shuffling
of feet: you would have thought a regiment was at the door. "Oh
heavens!" cried the marchioness, starting up, and giving to the
hand of Poinsinet one parting squeeze; "fly--fly, my Poinsinet:
'tis the colonel--my husband!" At this, each gentleman of the
party rose, and, drawing his rapier, vowed to cut his way through
the colonel and all his mousquetaires, or die, if need be, by the
side of Poinsinet.

The little fellow was obliged to lug out his sword too, and went
shuddering down stairs, heartily repenting of his passion for
marchionesses. When the party arrived in the street, they found,
sure enough, a dreadful company of mousquetaires, as they seemed,
ready to oppose their passage. Swords crossed,--torches blazed;
and, with the most dreadful shouts and imprecations, the contending
parties rushed upon one another; the friends of Poinsinet
surrounding and supporting that little warrior, as the French
knights did King Francis at Pavia, otherwise the poor fellow
certainly would have fallen down in the gutter from fright.

But the combat was suddenly interrupted; for the neighbors, who
knew nothing of the trick going on, and thought the brawl was real,
had been screaming with all their might for the police, who began
about this time to arrive. Directly they appeared, friends and
enemies of Poinsinet at once took to their heels; and, in THIS
part of the transaction, at least, our hero himself showed that he
was equal to the longest-legged grenadier that ever ran away.

When, at last, those little bandy legs of his had borne him safely
to his lodgings, all Poinsinet's friends crowded round him, to
congratulate him on his escape and his valor.

"Egad, how he pinked that great red-haired fellow!" said one.

"No; did I?" said Poinsinet.

"Did you? Psha! don't try to play the modest, and humbug US; you
know you did. I suppose you will say, next, that you were not for
three minutes point to point with Cartentierce himself, the most
dreadful swordsman of the army."

"Why, you see," says Poinsinet, quite delighted, "it was so dark
that I did not know with whom I was engaged; although, corbleu, I
DID FOR one or two of the fellows." And after a little more of
such conversation, during which he was fully persuaded that he had
done for a dozen of the enemy at least, Poinsinet went to bed, his
little person trembling with fright and pleasure; and he fell
asleep, and dreamed of rescuing ladies, and destroying monsters,
like a second Amadis de Gaul.

When he awoke in the morning, he found a party of his friends in
his room: one was examining his coat and waistcoat; another was
casting many curious glances at his inexpressibles. "Look here!"
said this gentleman, holding up the garment to the light; "one--
two--three gashes! I am hanged if the cowards did not aim at
Poinsinet's legs! There are four holes in the sword arm of his
coat, and seven have gone right through coat and waistcoat. Good
heaven! Poinsinet, have you had a surgeon to your wounds?"

"Wounds!" said the little man, springing up, "I don't know--that
is, I hope--that is--O Lord! O Lord! I hope I'm not wounded!" and,
after a proper examination, he discovered he was not.

"Thank heaven! thank heaven!" said one of the wags (who, indeed,
during the slumbers of Poinsinet had been occupied in making these
very holes through the garments of that individual), "if you have
escaped, it is by a miracle. Alas! alas! all your enemies have not
been so lucky."

"How! is anybody wounded?" said Poinsinet.

"My dearest friend, prepare yourself; that unhappy man who came to
revenge his menaced honor--that gallant officer--that injured
husband, Colonel Count de Cartentierce--"


"IS NO MORE! he died this morning, pierced through with nineteen
wounds from your hand, and calling upon his country to revenge his

When this awful sentence was pronounced, all the auditory gave a
pathetic and simultaneous sob; and as for Poinsinet, he sank back
on his bed with a howl of terror, which would have melted a
Visigoth to tears, or to laughter. As soon as his terror and
remorse had, in some degree, subsided, his comrades spoke to him of
the necessity of making his escape; and, huddling on his clothes,
and bidding them all a tender adieu, he set off, incontinently,
without his breakfast, for England, America, or Russia, not knowing
exactly which.

One of his companions agreed to accompany him on a part of this
journey,--that is, as far as the barrier of St. Denis, which is, as
everybody knows, on the high road to Dover; and there, being
tolerably secure, they entered a tavern for breakfast; which meal,
the last that he ever was to take, perhaps, in his native city,
Poinsinet was just about to discuss, when, behold! a gentleman
entered the apartment where Poinsinet and his friend were seated,
and, drawing from his pocket a paper, with "AU NOM DU ROY"
flourished on the top, read from it, or rather from Poinsinet's own
figure, his exact signalement, laid his hand on his shoulder, and
arrested him in the name of the King, and of the provost-marshal of
Paris. "I arrest you, sir," said he, gravely, "with regret; you
have slain, with seventeen wounds, in single combat, Colonel Count
de Cartentierce, one of his Majesty's household; and, as his
murderer, you fall under the immediate authority of the provost-
marshal, and die without trial or benefit of clergy."

You may fancy how the poor little man's appetite fell when he heard
this speech. "In the provost-marshal's hands?" said his friend:
"then it is all over, indeed! When does my poor friend suffer,

"At half-past six o'clock, the day after to-morrow," said the
officer, sitting down, and helping himself to wine. "But stop,"
said he, suddenly; "sure I can't mistake? Yes--no--yes, it is. My
dear friend, my dear Durand! don't you recollect your old
schoolfellow, Antoine?" And herewith the officer flung himself
into the arms of Durand, Poinsinet's comrade, and they performed a
most affecting scene of friendship.

"This may be of some service to you," whispered Durand to
Poinsinet; and, after some further parley, he asked the officer
when he was bound to deliver up his prisoner; and, hearing that he
was not called upon to appear at the Marshalsea before six o'clock
at night, Monsieur Durand prevailed upon Monsieur Antoine to wait
until that hour, and in the meantime to allow his prisoner to walk
about the town in his company. This request was, with a little
difficulty, granted; and poor Poinsinet begged to be carried to the
houses of his various friends, and bid them farewell. Some were
aware of the trick that had been played upon him: others were not;
but the poor little man's credulity was so great, that it was
impossible to undeceive him; and he went from house to house
bewailing his fate, and followed by the complaisant marshal's

The news of his death he received with much more meekness than
could have been expected; but what he could not reconcile to
himself was, the idea of dissection afterwards. "What can they
want with me?" cried the poor wretch, in an unusual fit of candor.
"I am very small and ugly; it would be different if I were a tall
fine-looking fellow." But he was given to understand that beauty
made very little difference to the surgeons, who, on the contrary,
would, on certain occasions, prefer a deformed man to a handsome
one; for science was much advanced by the study of such
monstrosities. With this reason Poinsinet was obliged to be
content; and so paid his rounds of visits, and repeated his dismal

The officer of the provost-marshal, however amusing Poinsinet's
woes might have been, began, by this time, to grow very weary of
them, and gave him more than one opportunity to escape. He would
stop at shop-windows, loiter round corners, and look up in the sky,
but all in vain: Poinsinet would not escape, do what the other
would. At length, luckily, about dinner-time, the officer met one
of Poinsinet's friends and his own: and the three agreed to dine at
a tavern, as they had breakfasted; and here the officer, who vowed
that he had been up for five weeks incessantly, fell suddenly
asleep, in the profoundest fatigue; and Poinsinet was persuaded,
after much hesitation on his part, to take leave of him.

And now, this danger overcome, another was to be avoided. Beyond a
doubt the police were after him, and how was he to avoid them? He
must be disguised, of course; and one of his friends, a tall, gaunt
lawyer's clerk, agreed to provide him with habits.

So little Poinsinet dressed himself out in the clerk's dingy black
suit, of which the knee-breeches hung down to his heels, and the
waist of the coat reached to the calves of his legs; and,
furthermore, he blacked his eyebrows, and wore a huge black
periwig, in which his friend vowed that no one could recognize him.
But the most painful incident, with regard to the periwig, was,
that Poinsinet, whose solitary beauty--if beauty it might be
called--was a head of copious, curling, yellow hair, was compelled
to snip off every one of his golden locks, and to rub the bristles
with a black dye; "for if your wig were to come off," said the
lawyer, "and your fair hair to tumble over your shoulders, every
man would know, or at least suspect you." So off the locks were
cut, and in his black suit and periwig little Poinsinet went

His friends had their cue; and when he appeared amongst them, not
one seemed to know him. He was taken into companies where his
character was discussed before him, and his wonderful escape spoken
of. At last he was introduced to the very officer of the provost-
marshal who had taken him into custody, and who told him that he
had been dismissed the provost's service, in consequence of the
escape of the prisoner. Now, for the first time, poor Poinsinet
thought himself tolerably safe, and blessed his kind friends who
had procured for him such a complete disguise. How this affair
ended I know not,--whether some new lie was coined to account for
his release, or whether he was simply told that he had been hoaxed:
it mattered little; for the little man was quite as ready to be
hoaxed the next day.

Poinsinet was one day invited to dine with one of the servants of
the Tuileries; and, before his arrival, a person in company had
been decorated with a knot of lace and a gold key, such as
chamberlains wear; he was introduced to Poinsinet as the Count de
Truchses, chamberlain to the King of Prussia. After dinner the
conversation fell upon the Count's visit to Paris; when his
Excellency, with a mysterious air, vowed that he had only come for
pleasure. "It is mighty well," said a third person, "and, of
course, we can't cross-question your lordship too closely;" but at
the same time it was hinted to Poinsinet that a person of such
consequence did not travel for NOTHING, with which opinion
Poinsinet solemnly agreed; and, indeed, it was borne out by a
subsequent declaration of the Count, who condescended, at last, to
tell the company, in confidence, that he HAD a mission, and a most
important one--to find, namely, among the literary men of France, a
governor for the Prince Royal of Prussia. The company seemed
astonished that the King had not made choice of Voltaire or
D'Alembert, and mentioned a dozen other distinguished men who might
be competent to this important duty; but the Count, as may be
imagined, found objections to every one of them; and, at last, one
of the guests said, that, if his Prussian Majesty was not
particular as to age, he knew a person more fitted for the place
than any other who could be found,--his honorable friend, M.
Poinsinet, was the individual to whom he alluded.

"Good heavens!" cried the Count, "is it possible that the
celebrated Poinsinet would take such a place? I would give the
world to see him?" And you may fancy how Poinsinet simpered and
blushed when the introduction immediately took place.

The Count protested to him that the King would be charmed to know
him; and added, that one of his operas (for it must be told that
our little friend was a vaudeville-maker by trade) had been acted
seven-and-twenty times at the theatre at Potsdam. His Excellency
then detailed to him all the honors and privileges which the
governor of the Prince Royal might expect; and all the guests
encouraged the little man's vanity, by asking him for his
protection and favor. In a short time our hero grew so inflated
with pride and vanity, that he was for patronizing the chamberlain
himself, who proceeded to inform him that he was furnished with
all the necessary powers by his sovereign, who had specially
enjoined him to confer upon the future governor of his son the
royal order of the Black Eagle.

Poinsinet, delighted, was ordered to kneel down; and the Count
produced a large yellow ribbon, which he hung over his shoulder,
and which was, he declared, the grand cordon of the order. You
must fancy Poinsinet's face, and excessive delight at this; for as
for describing them, nobody can. For four-and-twenty hours the
happy chevalier paraded through Paris with this flaring yellow
ribbon; and he was not undeceived until his friends had another
trick in store for him.

He dined one day in the company of a man who understood a little of
the noble art of conjuring, and performed some clever tricks on the
cards. Poinsinet's organ of wonder was enormous; he looked on with
the gravity and awe of a child, and thought the man's tricks sheer
miracles. It wanted no more to set his companions to work.

"Who is this wonderful man?" said he to his neighbor.

"Why," said the other, mysteriously, "one hardly knows who he is;
or, at least, one does not like to say to such an indiscreet fellow
as you are." Poinsinet at once swore to be secret. "Well, then,"
said his friend, "you will hear that man--that wonderful man--
called by a name which is not his: his real name is Acosta: he is a
Portuguese Jew, a Rosicrucian, and Cabalist of the first order, and
compelled to leave Lisbon for fear of the Inquisition. He performs
here, as you see, some extraordinary things, occasionally; but the
master of the house, who loves him excessively, would not, for the
world, that his name should be made public."

"Ah, bah!" said Poinsinet, who affected the bel esprit; "you don't
mean to say that you believe in magic, and cabalas, and such

"Do I not? You shall judge for yourself." And, accordingly,
Poinsinet was presented to the magician, who pretended to take a
vast liking for him, and declared that he saw in him certain marks
which would infallibly lead him to great eminence in the magic art,
if he chose to study it.

Dinner was served, and Poinsinet placed by the side of the miracle-
worker, who became very confidential with him, and promised him--
ay, before dinner was over--a remarkable instance of his power.
Nobody, on this occasion, ventured to cut a single joke against
poor Poinsinet; nor could he fancy that any trick was intended
against him, for the demeanor of the society towards him was
perfectly grave and respectful, and the conversation serious. On a
sudden, however, somebody exclaimed, "Where is Poinsinet? Did any
one see him leave the room?"

All the company exclaimed how singular the disappearance was; and
Poinsinet himself, growing alarmed, turned round to his neighbor,
and was about to explain.

"Hush!" said the magician, in a whisper; "I told you that you
should see what I could do. I HAVE MADE YOU INVISIBLE; be quiet,
and you shall see some more tricks that I shall play with these

Poinsinet remained then silent, and listened to his neighbors, who
agreed, at last, that he was a quiet, orderly personage, and had
left the table early, being unwilling to drink too much. Presently
they ceased to talk about him, and resumed their conversation upon
other matters.

At first it was very quiet and grave, but the master of the house
brought back the talk to the subject of Poinsinet, and uttered all
sorts of abuse concerning him. He begged the gentleman, who had
introduced such a little scamp into his house, to bring him thither
no more: whereupon the other took up, warmly, Poinsinet's defence;
declared that he was a man of the greatest merit, frequenting the
best society, and remarkable for his talents as well as his

"Ah!" said Poinsinet to the magician, quite charmed at what he
heard, "how ever shall I thank you, my dear sir, for thus showing
me who my true friends are?"

The magician promised him still further favors in prospect; and
told him to look out now, for he was about to throw all the company
into a temporary fit of madness, which, no doubt, would be very

In consequence, all the company, who had heard every syllable of
the conversation, began to perform the most extraordinary antics,
much to the delight of Poinsinet. One asked a nonsensical
question, and the other delivered an answer not at all to the
purpose. If a man asked for a drink, they poured him out a pepper-
box or a napkin: they took a pinch of snuff, and swore it was


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